From day one, my view on the conflict within early Overwatch has always been one of deep scrutiny. From the reasons for why it happened to what resulted, it all seems far too convenient of an origin story. Why would Gabriel Reyes, the one who took in rebellious-teen McCree, turn to murdering all former Overwatch operatives? Why does the story play as if he’s just a petty, angry man when he was the one who led Overwatch through the Omnic Crisis? For those unfamiliar with the game’s lore, I’ll briefly explain.
A vague amount of time before the game (more than 30 years, by my estimate), Overwatch was formed by Gabriel Reyes, Ana Amari, Jack Morrison, and Gabrielle Adawe. For the purpose of this post, we’ll be focusing on Reyes and Morrison. They were both products of a “soldier enhancement” program, and they climbed the ranks around the time of the cataclysmic event that set off the events of Overwatch: the Omnic Crisis. They were supposedly close friends until Morrison was promoted to Strike Commander rather than Reyes, who was the senior officer. Instead, Reyes was to lead Blackwatch, a black-ops division that was supposed to be kept top secret from the public eye. Word inevitably got out, and Overwatch as a whole was heavily criticized for permitting its soldiers to commit war crimes. At the same time, the relationship between Morrison and Reyes reached a boiling point which resulted in a massive explosion at Overwatch’s Switzerland base. Both were presumed dead. Overwatch was disbanded and made illegal by the UN.
The main issue I have with this is the vague reasoning behind the two men’s fallout. Reyes certainly doesn’t strike me as the type to throw a fit just because he didn’t get promoted. No, there was much more that the public wasn’t informed on, and not all of it was Reyes’ doing. It brings to mind a clever analogy I read once in regards to this topic: “You don’t feel betrayed when you steal your best friend’s cookie.” While Blackwatch was a black-ops division, Overwatch was its parent organization. Can we really say that Reyes was solely responsible for the aforementioned war crimes? At this point, the reader may be asking, “So what? What does it matter if Reyes takes the blame?”
The flimsy causes behind the pre-Swiss conflict make the whole thing come across as possibly racist.
Morrison’s design is the embodiment of the “American spirit.” He grew up as a farm boy in Indiana and worked so hard in the military that he caught the eye of the federal government. Reyes gets no such characterization; all we know is that he’s a Mexican-American man from L.A. who apparently had secret, violent tendencies. It’s incredibly suspect that he’s the one who led the borderline-criminal black-ops organization and single-handedly destroyed Overwatch with his rebellion. Morrison’s portrayed as the tragic, regretful hero, and yet, I couldn’t care less.
It may seem paranoid to declare racism as the driving force behind executive decisions in media, but it’s highly irresponsible to claim that it doesn’t exist. As a Latinx person, it stings and bothers me to no end when Latinx characters are dehumanized and made antagonists time and time again. In many works, we’re either criminals or exotic objects of sexual fantasies. This kind of treatment hurts everyone; it makes us more narrow-minded as people because we only see the same kind of characterization over and over, and it hurts minorities because they only see themselves in a negative light. And for the good of everyone, we need to be aware of this kind of behavior and point it out as it happens. Nothing gets done when people turn the other cheek.